Removed bushes - now what to replace?

OK, I finally got those big bushes removed from front of house. (Had posted earlier for ways to remove stumps.) Turns out, after I thoroughly wetted the base, gardener was able to dig it out, except ran into little problem -- water line! Other stump coming out Friday, not on water line, one hopes!
Here's current view:
<http://tinypic.com/r/1zn8lli/5
(Hope link works!!!)
NOW: What to put in their place? I have been kicking around ideas, getting more and more confused. Need your recommendations. This is So. Calif coastal, North facing. Plenty of sun all year.
1. Expen$ive decorative planter with tall-ish shrub (what kind????) Gardener cautions it might be stolen.
2. Ordinary terra cotta planter with (tall) (short) shrub, but not too spreading, or it will get in the way of the front walk like the old shrubs did.
3. Home Depot has blueberry bushes that don't spread too much (it said). Have been waiting decades for blueberries that will work w/o winter chill. (I don't care if people pick a few as they pass)
4. Forget pots, shrubs, trees, etc. Create a low-lying semi- circular area with pebbles/rocks/succulents/cacti.
5. Your suggestions?
WOULD REALLY VALUE YOUR INPUT ON THESE FIRST THOUGHTS.
TIA
Persephone T
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In article

Possible plant of interest.
<http://www.growingthehomegarden.com/2008/08/rosemary-as-evergreen-landsc ape.html>
I'd try to encourage a creeping thyme to soften the hard edge of the walk way.
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
What use one more wake up call?
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Could not get to this link after several tries. However, I did go to <growing the home garden> and there, under "shrubs" saw a beautiful plant named Salix Integra: Japanese Dappled Willow. What do you think?

Did you notice the grey-green paths on each side of the walkway? Bordered by red brick edging? They stop short of the "hard edges" because there used to be huge bulky shrubs where you now see only one trunk left.
Yes, the newly-exposed walkway edges do need to be softened, and the creeping thyme looks like an attractive and low-to-no maintenance ground cover. I'm thinking it might surround whatever shrub or ? I put in the vacated shrubs' spots. I had been considering river pebbles, but maybe...
Tx for suggestion.
Persephone

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Judging by the photo, the location is at the end of the front walk, at the sidewalk, and in full sun year round.
If I didn't mind watering, I might plant azaleas and some large specimen rocks. But I think I would rather have small trees there, that would make a refreshing cool pool of shade on the otherwise hot sidewalk in front of the house. Pick something with interesting bark and nice form, and not too big. Decide if you require evergreen or if deciduous is acceptable. Decide if highly attractive flowers are important, or not. Re form, I'd be looking for trees that can be pruned to a T shape: single trunk and a wide low crown.
For ideas walk around your neighborhood, visit nearby botanical gardens and nurseries, and look at trees wherever you go around town.
    Una
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On May 5, 1:42 pm, snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote:

You're reading my mind! Most of these are also my requirements. (Except it's too exposed for azalea.) I'm also a "nice bark" and "form" freak, and definitely it can't be too big. I'd prefer evergreen, all things considered; I really want low maintenance. Flowers would be nice, but not the prime determinant. Doubt if I can go for actual trees unless they can be really constrained, but am keeping mind open.
Tx for helpful suggestions.
Persephone

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On 5/5/10 11:38 AM, Higgs Boson wrote:

First of all, I will recommend against blueberries. They need acidic soil, which is hard to maintain right next to a concrete walkway. They also need ample water, which can be a problem with the water restrictions imposed by many jurisdictions in our area.
I can suggest several things, all to be planted in the ground and all evergreen. I have all of these in my garden. Although I'm more inland than you, they are all suitable for coastal areas.
Artemisia 'Powis Castle': Drought tolerant, light-gray foliage forming a mound, should be pruned back severely each spring, no flowers. I like this far more than the many different species called "dusty miller".
Rhaphiolepis indica (Indian hawthorn): There are compact (almost dwarf) varieties, but even the non-compact varieties are not overly large. Drought tolerant, new foliage pink changing to dark green as it matures, pink or white flowers.
Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii nana' (dwarf Burford holly): Not as prickly as English holly (I. aquifolium), bears berries reliably without cross-pollination, flowers very tiny and almost unnoticeable. Needs regular watering.
Syzygium paniculatum (eugenia, bush cherry): Definitely choose a dwarf variety; the standard variety can become a tree 60 ft tall and 20 ft wide. Green foliage with red edges, new foliage might be dark red, young stems are dark red. Flowers not showy, may have magenta berries that are edible but not tasty. Needs more water than Artemisia and Rhaphiolepis but less than Ilex.
Lavandula lanata x dentata ('Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender): Drought tolerant, gray foliage, spikes of fragrant purple flowers almost all year long (flowers need to be bruised for full fragrance).
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Yes, they have lovely foliage. I have had them in the back yard for years, but have never understood how to prune. The person who "designed" the remake of the back yard told me (ISTR?) not to prune them, so they get very leggy. I would love to have them mound, but how? I don't feel they're quite right for this location, but would welcome feedback on how to mound them where they are.

The brief research I just did on this plant after you recommended it augurs well. I'll put it in my "to be considered" file.

Mmmm...doesn't stir my pulse...

I have a HUGE Eugenia hedge to the W. of my lot. Been there since I bought the place, ages ago. OK, but not enthralling.

I dearly love lavender and have several varieties in the back yard, but I want somethig that requires almost no attention, like deadheading,etc. (also a problem with Artemisia, which tends to grow a shaggy beard down the stem).
Really 'preciate the suggestions. Keep 'em coming, as you obviously have a much more extensive and varied jardin than moi.
Persephone

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On 5/5/10 4:51 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

Since you are in a coastal area, you can prune Artemisia 'Powis Castle' in February or even late January. I get some nighttime frost through February, so I wait until March. I discovered the hard way that I can't prune this plant in the fall or winter.
Cut main branches to about 12-15 inches long. Remove thin branches and any that cross through or point towards the center. Remove any branches that are growing along the ground. Of course, remove any dead or broken branches. Bare branches will sprout new shoots. It took mine about 6 weeks after being pruned to form new (but small) mounds. By July, the mounds should be about 3 ft across and almost as high.
Also, when new shoots are about 3-4 inches long, you can take cuttings. They root quite readily. The rooted cuttings can be use to replace plants that are too leggy. I used cuttings from a survivor to replace the four that died when I pruned them in November.
I ignore the "beards". They generally appear in the fall or winter, when the rest of my garden looks a little shabby; so they don't really detract from the overall appearance of my garden.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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On Wed, 5 May 2010 11:38:25 -0700 (PDT), Higgs Boson

Planting annuals will give you more time to think about it, plus give you some color. For perennials crassula and sedums are good choices requiring little water and little care. I recall seeing beautiful ice plants in So CA--they seem to take the salty air just fine and have a brilliant metallic appearance.
I got blueberry bushes that are growing well in east TN. I have the climate and soil condiitons for them. They may need special care to grow well in So CA--is your soil alkaline? Without bird netting you wont get many berries, plus from a landscaping view it won't win a prize (there are much better looking plants for your front yard). Blueberry bushes, at least the wild ones, like dappled sunlight on the edge of a wooded area.
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